Saturday, March 20, 2010

First time in print

The idea I've been beating to death here has found its way into The Atlantic, only sort of reversed:

Derek Thompson offers "7 Ideas That Could Save Online Journalism" . We pass in silence over #'s 1 through 6. Here's #7, as he formulates it:
7) Make Verizon Pay. Think cable. Last, here's an idea that sounds impossible at the moment, but has ancestors in cable: sharing fees with Internet service providers. Basically content providers would band together in groups -- maybe like Journalism Online -- and lobby broadband internet providers like Comcast and Verizon. I see no indication that something like this is possible in the short term, Pew reports that a company called Clickshare believes it can implement a service in which "consumers have an account at one service (such as a news, cable or Internet service provider site) and can be periodically billed for access to information from a plethora of other affiliated content sites."

One would not imagine that Clickshare would see it quite the way we do:

 ...we who use the Internet think of the Net as both mechanism and mind - pipes and content. We believe that when we've paid our Internet Service Provider, we've done our share. The stuff we find when we connect is what we have already paid for.
Only, the corporate "owners" of the pipes do not see it this way. They make a clear distinction between pipes and content (and then proceed, if they're Verizon or Comcast, to offer miserable excuses for content), and tell us we are only paying for the pipes.
What strikes me in all the discussions, white papers, and bloggery among journalists and commentators is, they apparently buy this hokum -- hook, line, sinker, and mouse turd. Not once have I seen the savvy content gurus suggest that the money we end users intend for content is all being waylaid, ripped off, by the pipe guys. Somewhere back in the day when the pipes were being laid, there was a logical moment when Big Pipe had to think: "What if no one puts any content out there? Then who will use our infrastructure?"
Fortunately for Big Pipe, no content provider apparently ever raised the issue with them, saying, in effect, "That's a nice pipe you've got there - want some content? Let's make a deal." 
At this point, the impending doom facing journalism will require Content and Pipes to rethink the current model of content economics. Or, failing such gumption, Content and Pipes will attempt to throw us, the end users, the folks they are allegedly there "for," under the bus.

If we do find ourselves under the bus, it might be necessary to show Large Content and Fat Pipes that indeed, without a model adequate to the economic realities of human users, they are dreaming the phantasmagoria.
 the expanding frontier in the United States made for an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear that was ideal for phantasmagoria shows[11].

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Friday, March 19, 2010

A quibble regarding Lola Montes with regard to Sarah Palin

as perpended by Andrew Sarris, in his last notice of Lola Montes:
In his own cultivated way, Ophüls (1902-1957) proved to be something of a prophet.. . .
As the ever menacing Sarah Palin proves once again that mere mediocrity is no obstacle to gaining a frightening degree of power, the Ophüls vision is timelier than ever. As I watch Ms. Palin in fearful rapport with hordes of hockey moms, I am reminded not so much of Lola Montès herself as of the larger numbers of celebrity-worshippers with proudly limited intellects in our own time threatening to plunge us irrevocably into the abyss.

Sarris, who called Lola Montes the greatest film of all time, does Montes a small disservice here, I think. The issue is not the mediocrity of the character, but the ingenious professional Barnum-esque machine that employs a legendary "liberated woman" for its own mercenary purposes. The film seems to have been misread by many reviewers. For example, one suggests that the circus is staging her memories. Clearly it is staging some idiotic USian scandal sheet notion of what her memories *must be.*

Lola : Ludwig I :: Wagner : Ludwig II (for discussion)

Ophuls' machine is Hollywood, of course. And the magic box of TV, and now the magic manicals of corporate media whatever the form. The object is always the same: take whatever breathes most of life, control it, present it, for a price. Succès de scandale is sacred fire -- Murdoch hopefully will extinguish it by using Palin for TV banalities.

Update: By the way, the film was remastered in 2008:

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Open e-missions

"No one can anticipate all the useful analyses that can be made of data from planetary missions, and so it is important that it be placed in a public archive where anyone can access it." - Ralph Lorenz, a scientist who studies Titan, Saturn's moon, in Titan Unveiled.

Change (or delete) "from planetary missions" and you have a very good reason for open systems. Indeed, it's Popperian (and Sorosian) Reason Itself.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

From the much neglected blogroll

White-collar area cases, I think, are distinguishable from terrorism or drug crimes, for the primary reason that, often, people are plotting their defense at the same time they're committing their crime. They are smart people who understand that they are crossing the line, and so they are papering the record or having veiled or coded conversations that make it difficult to establish a wrongdoing.” Ted "Taibbi" Kaufman via pas

text via Lohmann

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Adorno on Comcast

This seems more than mildly relevant to Comcast's effort to substitute itself for the reality principle:

 the basis on which technology acquires power over society is the power of those whose economic hold over society is greatest. A technological rationale is the rationale of domination itself. It is the coercive nature of society alienated from itself. Automobiles, bombs, and movies keep the whole thing together until their leveling element shows its strength in the very wrong which it furthered. It has made the technology of the culture industry no more than the achievement of standardisation and mass production, sacrificing whatever involved a distinction between the logic of the work and that of the social system.

And this reaches past relevance to approach prophesy:

The dependence of the most powerful broadcasting company on the electrical industry, or of the motion picture industry on the banks, is characteristic of the whole sphere, whose individual branches are themselves economically interwoven. All are in such close contact that the extreme concentration of mental forces allows demarcation lines between different firms and technical branches to be ignored.

Both are from The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception, (1944), Adorno's chap. 3  of Dialectic of Enlightenment, (h/t to Gifthub). I'm not sure if the extreme concentration is of mental forces, or of demental forces, but the piece seems like actor's notes for this telenovela (and of course this one) in which is illustrated the goosestepping logic of the "ruthless unity" of kelcha:

 The ruthless unity in the culture industry is evidence of what will happen in politics. Marked differentiations such as those of A and B films, or of stories in magazines in different price ranges, depend not so much on subject matter as on classifying, organising, and labelling consumers. Something is provided for all so that none may escape; the distinctions are emphasised and extended. The public is catered for with a hierarchical range of mass-produced products of varying quality, thus advancing the rule of complete quantification. Everybody must behave (as if spontaneously) in accordance with his previously determined and indexed level, and choose the category of mass product turned out for his type. Consumers appear as statistics on research organisation charts, and are divided by income groups into red, green, and blue areas; the technique is that used for any type of propaganda.

Read it, archons of Twitter, and retweet:

There is nothing left for the consumer to classify. Producers have done it for him.

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Ad hominous signs

Upon hearing that Comcast is once again raising its rates, even as it moves from monopoly of pipes to ownership of content (NBC):
If we are serious as a nation – both public and private sectors – about connecting America;
about leading the world technologically and economically; about ensuring that all Americans have
meaningful access to on-line education, healthcare, and information essential to citizenry, then we
should be very concerned about these ominous signs. Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commish.

Brian Roberts.
This is the same guy who recently made the list of the top five “highest-paid, worst-performing” CEOs in the country. That's no exaggeration. Do you know what Roberts makes in a year? $40.8 million. That's more than $100,000 a day . . .

Earlier this week, Comcast announced that it will again raise its rates for Internet access. The company already records a profit margin of 80 percent for this service, charging customers $40 for something that costs just $8 to supply.


See: It is risen, and it eats your brain on stale crackers. Also: Big Pipe, passim

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Headlines from Marketplace read aloud

Poor neighbors, go fuck your brown selves.

Students, prepare for serfdom.

Maximizing Broadband can only mean, TV.

 Monetizing mortality efficiently.
 we do put a dollar value on human life everyday, we just put different dollar values on different human lives.

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Big Pipalooza

Asymmetric Internet Economic Model begins to get so out of whack as to approach infinity at one focus, zero at the other.Or is that a parabola. Or a hyberbola. What ever it is, the nostril takes offense.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Thin sliced thoughts even thinner

Two footnotes to yesterday's comment on Andrejevic's "Thin Sliced Thoughts" piece:

1. A friend forwarded this Angier piece (in the Times, of course) about filmmaking, pink noise, and the control of attention:
Hollywood filmmakers, whether they know it or not, have become steadily more adroit at shaping basic movie structure to match the pulsatile, half-smooth, half-raggedy way we attend to the world around us. This mounting synchrony between movie pace and the bouncing ball of the mind’s inner eye may help explain why today’s films manage to seize and shackle audience attention so ruthlessly...
She's all, like, gaa, with no awareness of the exploitative potential in the utility of brain scanning efforts discussed by Andrejevic.

2. As regards the very well-described effect of introducing competing narratives into the info-glut, which Andrejevic sums up as:

By multiplying the narratives—and in particular, those narratives that cast uncertainty on one another—the goal is to highlight the absence of any ‘objective’ standard for arbitrating between them.

It should be noted that this strategy has tremendous leverage -- maximal, really -- within a journalistic practice that attempts to present fair and balanced, equally weighted but incompatible judgments (or perspectives) because this sort of cravenly feckless (candyass) approach is precisely what the USian journalistic establishment calls objective.

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Monday, March 01, 2010

Wanted: a French poet walking a lobster

From a fine piece by Mark Andrejevic*, THIN-SLICED THOUGHTS AND THEORY’S ENDS:
The very notion that one is free to choose not only one’s opinions but also one’s facts relies upon a breakdown in the notion of any guarantee of a consistent, knowable world. ...

One is free to choose one’s own opinions and facts in a world wherein all representations are understood as debunkable contrivances.

(big snip)

It is perhaps not surprising, then, that the “investment arm” of the CIA, an organization called In-Q-Tel, has already provided backing for a sentiment analysis company called Visible Technologies, as “part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using ‘open source intelligence’” (Shachtman, 2009). The modulation of affect is what might be described as a convergent strategy—a management mode that lends itself to the realms of politics, policing, and marketing alike. Whether or not it turns out to be a successful strategy, it gestures in the direction of a different way of thinking about information—not as the raw material of rational-critical understanding and not as contributing to an ongoing process of deliberation based on an evidentiary, representational view of the world (one in which facts tell us about something beyond themselves). In this regard, the strategy undermines the very premises upon which important aspects of the political version of the information revolution were based: the creation of an informed citizenry and increased state and corporate accountability. ...

It is a shift that calls for a two-fold counter-strategy: the development of a means for recognizing a debunked but unsurpassed symbolic efficiency and a critique of the commercial capture and privatization of the information infrastructure. ... information is collected without its use being subject to scrutiny; targeting strategies remain opaque along with the priorities and algorithms that guide them.

The whole article by Andrejevic is worth a read, as it very much concerns how to impede, resist the FAST collapse of the symbolic into the unreal. This last bit is touched on in something I wrote after attending the FASTforward 08 conference. The manipulation or even creation of affective states is very much an on the fly, mobile sort of thing. Perfect for tweeterz.

Before we got to rapid mobile manipulation, there was the more deliberate pace of the flaneur.

It should be noted that since that conference, FAST, the Norwegian search firm, was acquired by Microsoft and now consults with the NY Times etc.

*via humorzo

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